Nov 20, 2015

Concerns about security and access expressed by local attorneys if law library is moved

These are some concerns the County regarding moving the law library.

Listed below are some concerns summarized:

There will probably be some pushback on using the law library.  Right now, attorneys can get a key card to the law library and have after hours access.  Some attorneys are very concerned that a move may limit their access to the law library.  There's also an issue because there is no security at the law library entrance. 

EPD invites public to attend promotional ceremony at Adorni and introduction of ten new hires

The Eureka Police Department is holding a Promotional Ceremony on Tuesday, November 24, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Adorni Center in Eureka.  The public and media are invited to attend.

The seven employees who were announced and promoted in September will be sworn in for their new assignments.  Additionally, we will introduce the ten new hires that we have had the privilege to welcome into the Department ranks since our last ceremony in November, 2014.  A few special awards will be handed out at the end of the ceremony.

"We expect a prosecutor to know the law." comment about former DA Paul Gallegos on the Timothy Littlefield case currently before the Court of Appeals

I have been following every court hearing and development in the Timothy Littlefield case since it was sent to the Court of Appeals. Mr. Allan Dollison has often given feedback on the developments and he has been correct every time.

I contacted him to ask him what his prediction was since there have been several disposition and rest hearings to schedule the third trial.

This is a response from Mr. Dollison. He is a private attorney. He often comments on my blog. And writes Dollison on the Docket for Lost Coast Outpost.

"It appears that the incredibly long People v. Timothy Littlefield case is finally near conclusion. The matter stands submitted at the 1st District Court of Appeals after oral arguments on November 3. The Justices have 90 days to issue their decision. I ordered the oral recordings of the argument and listened to them intently to see if through their questioning, I could guess what is going to happen.
This was the case, where a man was convicted of Multiple Lewd Acts on a Child. Over 9 months later he brought a Motion for New Trial with an affidavit from a juror attached who expressed an opinion that the "defense didn't prove their case." Purportedly the declaration was written by a defense investigator after a discussion with the juror. In our system of justice, the defense does not have to prove anything of course. The legal dispute will center around the admissibility of that declaration.

Here is my prediction, and we will officially know what actually happens when the opinion is released. I believe the Justices are going to reverse the trial Court's decision granting a new trial as a result of juror misconduct. They will remand to the trial Court with instructions to offer the Defendant the opportunity to present legally admissible evidence in support of their claim for a new trial. They are going to rule that the trial Court should not have allowed the Affidavit or Declaration from a juror, as it violated California Evidence Code section 1150. That section says in its pertinent part as follows: "...No evidence is admissible to show the effect of such statement, conduct, condition, or event upon a juror either in influencing him to assent to or dissent from the verdict or concerning the mental processes by which it was determined..."

I believe the opinion could be critical of the prosecutor who handled the hearing (and the trial), Paul Gallegos, as he did not object to the admissibility of this declaration. In fact most of the oral argument centered on whether or not the people waived this argument by failing to object. Yet, the Court of Appeals in the argument were noticeably troubled by inadmissible evidence being considered to overturn a jury verdict in a very serious case. The key distinction is whether or not this juror communicated this improper opinion to other jurors. Having done 35+ trials, my experience is when a juror voices an opinion to others contrary to the law or suggests something inappropriate, the other jurors will report such conduct to the judge. That never happened in this case. The argument pointed out that the juror did not back up his declaration while testifying on this motion.
The key point is the finality of this process, and attorneys being able to march into court with juror declarations. The law does not allow for that, and thus the process should be reversed.
Both Appellate lawyers agreed to the suggestion of the Court of Appeals that a remand with a final opportunity to present admissible evidence should be afforded, which is why it is certain that is the track they are taking. I think it is a fair decision. There is always the possibility they could rule against the people because of the waiver or failure to object argument. It is an important principle of the law that evidentiary objections must be made at the trial court level and not wait for an appeals court to straighten it out. One reason is the delay an appeal can take, and now any future hearing, the evidence will really be from a long time ago. They did note that the defense took about 8-9 months post-conviction to file that motion, so it is my prediction that they will not be persuaded by the waiver argument. Oral arguments are typically used by the justices to test theories that they have, as they already have an inkling of what they intend to do. They reviewed long legal briefs on the issues before the argument. Most of their questioning was testing this remand with another opportunity theory.
On the waiver and admissibility of the evidence, at one point, one of the Justices said, "We expect a prosecutor to know the law." Shortly when the opinion is issued we shall find out what the law is. One thing is clear and it went unsaid in the oral argument hearing. It is not the job of a judge to make the objections for the prosecutor, or even the defense attorney if the shoe was on the other foot.
This will be an interesting opinion in a case, where a man who had stood convicted faces 150+ years in prison. There has already been two trials, the first hung 11-1 in favor of guilt. The second was a unanimous guilty verdict. The justices were mindful of how difficult it would be for a minor victim to have to testify in a 3rd trial."

Two new judges, two new courtrooms in Humboldt County?

It seems the Humboldt Law Library will be relocated to make rooms for two courtrooms for two additional Judges Humboldt County may be getting.

I got some clarification from and just spoke with Ms. Kim Bartleson, CEO for the Humboldt Superior Court.

Humboldt was supposed to receive an additional Judge in the last session but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed that, said Ms. Bartleson. Any Judges that will assist will be Visiting Judges.

It is not known where the law library will relocate to yet. Ms. Bartleson said that the Judicial of California is negotiating with the County for additional court so that some of the homicide trials can be held.

See some positive changes with Ms. Bartleson already. She is definitely more accessible and helpful than her predecessor.

As reported several times on this blog, getting trials out on a timely issue has been challenging.

Credit to Ed Denson for first mentioning this development and thanks Ed for shout out for my reporting.

After attorney's advice, person living at Freshwater where suspicious fire was started refuses to speak with Deputy, Sheriff investigating

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 at approximately 4:05 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Humboldt Bay Fire to respond to a suspicious residential fire on the 1200 block of Freshwater Rd, Eureka. Deputies responded and spoke with Humboldt Bay Fire’s Battalion Chief who stated he believed the fire was caused by a hash lab explosion from inside the residence.

The Deputy spoke with one of the persons who was in the residence when the fire started but was interrupted by their attorney. The attorney advised the involved person not to speak with the Deputy in regards to this incident. The Deputy was informed of two additional subjects who were in the residence during the fire and they were now at a local hospital. The Deputy responded to the hospital and began questioning the involved party when their attorney appeared and advised them not to speak with the Deputy in regards to this incident as well.

Due to the lack of cooperation with this incident this case has been forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division for further investigation.

Lindsay Kaminsky, charged with stabbing her husbands enters plea for reduced charge and felony probation

Lindsay Kaminsky, the Arcata woman charged with stabbing her husband, Glenn Kaminsky who did not want the case prosecuted. He has been there for every court hearing.

The case was originally set before Judge John Feeney for sentencing. He is in Garberville today. His cases were moved to Courtroom 5. Not seeing Lindsay Kaminsky or her lawyer. I had to wander around the second floor to discover the case being called in Courtroom 4. I told her husband.

We were not privy to the last minute change via email between the Judges, last minute. Even the lawyers did not know until the last minute.

The case is now being prosecuted by Deputy David Christensen. Manny Daskal is representing Lindsay Kaminsky.

The case may eventually be settled as a wobbler. This information was not mentioned in court this morning but information I have. It was explained to Mr. Kaminsky that a wobbler is a when a felony reduced to misdemeanor with probation. This is what he wants the DA's office to do and has been requesting.

Lindsay Kaminsky plead to an added count 3 which was added, assault by means of force most likely to reduce bodily injury.

Count 1 inflict corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant with a special allegation use of deadly weapon and Count 2 assault with a deadly weapon other than firearm were dismissed.

Lindsay Kaminsky entered an Arbuckle waiver. If the plea is rejected by the sentencing Judge, which will be Judge Joyce Hinrichs, Lindsay Kaminsky faces a potential prison term of 2 years which is lower term, 3 years which is mid term, or 4 years which is the maximum. If probation is violated, she will get the maximum prison term.

DDA Christensen gave the factual basis for the charge. In June 2015, Lindsay Kaminsky stabbed her husband in the neck with a knife. Before accepting the plea, Judge Cissna asked Mr. Christensen, "Why is your office reducing serious charges like this and making this offer?"

DDA Christensen said, "The defendant, Ms. Kaminsky does not have a significant criminal record, she has a misdemeanor DUI in New York. The alleged victim, Mr. Kaminsky since Day 1 has wanted a misdemeanor resolution. He feels his wife suffered a mental episode and this was unusual circumstances." Glenn Kaminsky feels there were emotional and psyschological issues and wants his wife to get help.

Glenn Kaminsky wanted the no contact order dropped today so he could see his wife in jail. Judge Cissna said that normally notice is given and that he is not familiar with the case and was not going to make that decision today. He said that the request could be put on calendar or addressed at sentencing.

Judge Cissna told Lindsay Kaminsky that after he refers this matter to probation for a pre-sentencing report, Judge Hinrichs can follow their recommendation, accept the plea or reject the plea. He advised her of the rights she was giving up. That she could face a potential fine up to $10,000. Probation could be up to five years. She would have to pay restitution to the victim, "if there was any requested" and there would be a mandatory restitution fine ranging anywhere from $300 to $10,000.

Sentencing will be on December 22 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5.

No other media was in court this morning or has been following this case after the initial headlines.

Nov 19, 2015

Preliminary hearing finally set for Thomas Lusk charged with 6 felonies including torture, rape, false imprisonment, oral copulation and has prior conviction of terroristic threats

A preliminary hearing was finally set for Thomas Lusk, who had yet another disposition and rest hearing scheduled for today.

Lusk is charged with six felonies. Count 1 Torture; Count 2 Rape by Force, Count 3 Penetration by a Foreign Object, Count 4 Oral copulation with Force/Violence/Duress, Count 5 Assault likely to produce great bodily injury; Count 6 False Imprisonment and a special allegation of a prior felony conviction, which was of making terroristic threats.

Mr. Greg Elvine-Kreis was present in court today with Lusk. Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis is prosecuting the case.

Jul 23, 2015

Preliminary hearing for Thomas Lusk, the Miranda man accused of sexual assault continued

A disposition and reset hearing set for August 13 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2. Lusk waived time. DDA Brie Bennett is prosecuting the case. Conflict Counsel's Mr. Marek Reavis is representing Lusk.

Lack of courtrooms is reason for the change.

Lusk's bail was  set at $650,000. 

Jul 9, 2015

Man who was arrested for mistreating a dog in 2011 now charged with alleged sexual asault

HCSO Press Release:

On Monday, 07/06/2015, at about 8:15 PM, a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy was dispatched to CA Highway 254 just north of Phillipsville to contact a California Highway Patrol Officer who was standing by with the victim of an alleged sexual assault.

The 31 year old female victim reported that she met Thomas Leonard Lusk Jr., age 34 years, about three days ago near Miranda, CA. She was waiting for the bus to continue her travels. Lusk told her the bus wouldn’t be arriving for several hours and he suggested she wait at his residence. The victim thought this was a good idea and she went with Lusk to his residence in Miranda.

Lusk and the victim were at his residence for several hours conversing. When the victim questioned Lusk about the bus, he became angry and started beating her with his fists and threatened to kill her. Lusk kept the victim captive, by force and fear, in his residence for the next three days where he sexually assaulted her repeatedly. On the third day Lusk left the victim alone and she was able to escape through a bedroom window. She ran to the highway where she encountered a subject in a parked car making a phone call. She jumped in the car, told the subject she had been sexually assaulted, and requested a ride to the hospital. The driver started toward the hospital and encountered the CHP officer who notified the Sheriff’s Office of the assault.

On Wednesday, 07/08/2015, Lusk was arrested at his residence where a search warrant was served. Lusk was arrested and charged with rape through force and violence, sexual battery, oral copulation through force or fear, sexual penetration through force or fear, criminal threats, and false imprisonment.

From Times-Standard article in June 2011:

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office arrested a Miranda man Wednesday night for allegedly firing shots at another man after the man confronted him about mistreating a dog.
Deputies arrested Thomas Leonard Lusk, 29, and booked him into the Humboldt County jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful discharge of a firearm, robbery and vandalism. His bail is set at $100,000.

Deputies received a call around 8 p.m. from a 23-year-old Eureka man who said he was shot at by an unknown person on the side of U.S. Highway 101 near the Miranda Bridge. Deputies and the California Highway Patrol responded.

According to a press release, the man had been parked in the turnout working on his broken-down vehicle when he saw Lusk mistreating a dog. The man said he "verbally confronted" Lusk about the mistreatment, reportedly angering Lusk, who threatened to shoot the victim before riding off on his bicycle.

About five minutes later, Lusk returned on his bicycle carrying what appeared to be a rifle. Lusk reportedly started shooting at the Eureka man, who fled into the bushes and called 911. Law enforcement officers reportedly arrived after Lusk allegedly entered the man's car and began removing items before fleeing into nearby bushes.

The officers ordered Lusk out of the bushes, and he complied.

After deputies informed Lusk he was under arrest, he reportedly began kicking the inside of the patrol car, damaging it. He was transferred to another deputy's patrol car and reportedly damaged the interior of the second car as well.

Heroin, meth, suspended license and three arrrests

On Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at approximately 9:40 a.m. a Deputy with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office recognized the driver of a vehicle as 25 year old Robert Glenn Adam Ellis, of Fortuna. From prior contacts the Deputy knew Ellis’ driver’s license was suspended and he is on multiple counts of probation in Humboldt County with a search and seizure clause. The Deputy conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on Brenard Rd on the Bear River Rancheria.

The Deputy contacted Ellis and Ellis admitted to the Deputy his driver’s license was still suspended and he also claimed to not have any drugs on him. There was a female passenger in the front passenger seat and a male passenger in the rear seat. The female passenger, Allissa Chad Brock, age 25, of Willow Creek, told the Deputy she had needles in her purse. Brock exited the vehicle and then told the Deputy she had heroin and methamphetamine in her bra. The Deputy directed Brock to remove the narcotics from her bra and she placed them on the patrol vehicle.

Daniel Michael Langevin, age 25, was not on probation and did not have warrants. Langevin requested to leave and the Deputy said he was free to go. Langevin got out of the vehicle and started walking away.

The Deputy continued his search of the vehicle and located a box on the floor next to where Langevin was sitting. Inside the box were two plastic bags containing what appeared to be a large quantity of heroin and methamphetamine. Before the Deputy mentioned the narcotics to Brock and Ellis, both exclaimed the narcotics did not belong to them but to the subject walking away. The Deputy drove a short distance and located Langevin. The Deputy explained to Langevin he found evidence that would send all three people to jail unless he could determine who the owner was. Langevin described the location, container, and type of narcotics located within. The Deputy estimated the bags each contained one half ounce each.

Brock was released on scene with a citation for HS11377(a)- Possess a Controlled Substance; HS11350(a)- Possession of Heroin; and HS11364(a)- Possess Drug Paraphernalia. Ellis was released on scene with a citation for VC14601.1(a)- Suspended License; and VC16028(a)- No Insurance. Langevin was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility and booked for HS11378 – Possession of a Controlled Substance for Sale; and HS11351- Possess or Purchase a Controlled Substance for Sale.

Robert Huntzinger and Billy Joe Giddings arraigned for jury trial for the alleged home invasion, robbery and homicide of Trevor Harrison

Arcata home invasion suspect Robert Huntzinger who was arrested for the May 9 home invasion robbery and homicide of Trevor Harrison, along with Billy Joe Giddings, were both arraigned on information this afternoon for a jury trial.

They were held to answer after an almost week long preliminary hearing. Deputy District Attorney Jackie Pizzo appeared on behalf of DDA Roger Rees who is prosecuting this case.

Huntzinger is being represented by Russ Clanton and associates. Mr. David Celli appeared in court today with Huntzinger.  Giddings is being represented by Public Defender Mr. Luke Brownfield.

Both entered not guilty pleas and denied all special allegations. Both waived time.

Setting for trial date is scheduled on January 21, 2016 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5.

"In the last 5 years, 400 firearms have been reported stolen in Eureka" ; EPD, Federal Firearm License Holders and ATF agents meet to work together

Two days ago, I reported on a meeting between Eureka Police Department and Federal Fierarm License holders.

The meeting was closed to press but as a follow-up, I got the following information from EPD's Brittany Powell.

"About 13 FFLs were in attendance today and two ATF agents.  We went over some statistics.  So far in 2015, 91 firearms have been reported stolen within the city limits of Eureka.  Over 100 firearms have been seized by EPD officers though drug busts, traffic stops, special enforcement raids, etc.  In the last 5 years, 400 firearms have been reported stolen in Eureka. "

"We had a round table discussion about safety and security of firearms.  There were many good ideas thrown out and several FFLs expressed interest in working together.  Some ideas included continued education after firearm purchase, a communication platform among FFLs, and an awareness flyer."

Aaron Ostrom, who owns Pacific Outfitters, and had a theft of guns at his store, attended the meeting. He told me, "We are looking forward in partnering with the Eureka Police Department to co-promote safe firearm storage. When you consider most firearms used in crimes are stolen firearms and how many stolen firearms are reported annually within Eureka city limits, we can stress enough the importance of locking up your firearm when you are not around."

Nov 17, 2015

EPD to meet with Federal Firearm License Holders this Thursday to talk about gun safety educational campaign

This Thursday, November 17 at 1pm, the Eureka Police Department is meeting with all FFL (Federal Firearm License) holders in the city of Eureka to talk about an educational campaign.

I contacted Pacific Outfitter's owner Aaron Ostrom who is a FFL holder. He told me that "We continually host free gun safety/cleaning clinics. In addition to that we have some literature that we hand out and talk about to all our customers. The other part of selling firearms is educating safety. "

This is part of the educational safety campaign that I posted about from Chief Mills on November 5, the day after the firearm storage ordinance was pulled from the Eureka City Council agenda.

November 5, 2015 post:

On Tuesday, I reported that EPD Chief Andy Mills had pulled the safe storage firearms ordinance, for now and was working instead to educate the public.

He also said he is open to better solutions from the comunity. At the EPD press conference yesterday, Chief Mills spoke passionately about gun safety issues.

I asked him to give me a preview of his educational campaign for gun safety.

Below are his remarks:

We are going to work with the gun dealer community and gun clubs to educate on best practices in the prevention of gun theft.  I have discussed with at least one dealer to offer a discount on safes here in Eureka should people want them.  In the meantime we will continue to monitor gun theft and attempts and compare before with after the campaign.  Further definition will come when we identify how we will promote better gun retention techniques. 

Jury selection complete for the Jason Armstrong jury trial; he is charged with homicide committed in Redway

Jury selection was completed this morning for the jury trial of Jason Armstrong who is charged with  the homicide of Daneyal Siddique of Redway California.

Mr. Kevin Robinson from the Public Defender's office is representing Armstrong. Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees is prosecuting the case.

The jury trial is not in session tomorrow or next week. Trail will resume Monday, November 30.

Despite criminal proceedings suspended in other cases, DA can still charge Jett with assault on deputy in a new case

I asked Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming if Jett would be arraigned for these new charges.

DA Maggie Fleming responded to me via email:

"We do not yet have that report. We are able to file charges on a person while other criminal proceedings are suspended.  (The defense in that situation can choose to seek to have the new charged case also suspended.)"

Kristopher Jett who is awaiting placement in a mental health facility and had an order signed for psychotropic medication and is charged with assault adds to his criminal charges. Criminal proceedings have been suspended in his case. He was arrested for an assault near the Courthouse Market.

Count 1 is assault with a deadly weapon with a special allegation of a prior conviction in Del Norte County for PC 594 (b) 1.

Count 2 Elder/Dependent abuse. The complaint alleges Jett willfully caused " an elder and dependent adult to suffer unjustifiable physical and mental suffering", the victim is James Louis Stratton. Same special allegation of prior conviction of P 594 (b) 1.

Jett also has a prior conviction from Del Norte County for PC 422 which is a special allegation for both counts.

On November 13, Judge Bruce Watson found Jett not competent to stand trial based on a report by Dr. Ramirez.

On November 16, a judgement of mental incompetence and order of placement as well as an order for anti psychotic medication was filed.

Robert Wall appointed as interim Director of Planning and Building for the County

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors last week appointed Robert Wall to the position of Interim Director of Planning and Building.
Wall currently serves as the supervising long-range planner in the department. There he has helped guide the General Plan Update (GPU), developing a robust public outreach process including putting on workshops and hearings throughout the county. As interim director, Wall will supervise the department and continue guiding the GPU and the medical marijuana land use ordinance, among other duties.
Prior to his time with the county, Wall served as the senior long-range planner and then director for the Planning Department with the City of Eureka. While with the city, some of Wall’s accomplishments included two certified housing elements, serving as the project planner for the Lost Coast Brewery project, securing environmental clearances and coastal development permit for development of the Hikshari Trail, and finalizing the city’s historic preservation element of the general plan. Wall also worked in the private sector with SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologist for several years and prior to that was a planner with the County of Humboldt. Wall has also worked on three general plan update teams in the north state.
“Rob has already had a very positive impact in the Planning Department since he came on board,” said Estelle Fennell, Chair of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. “I look forward to working with him as we all work to make our Planning Department even better with greater customer service to our community.”
Other pieces of Wall’s background include being certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners since 2001, graduating from Humboldt State majoring in geography, and earning his master’s in rural and town planning from Chico State. Wall also served our country in the Coast Guard. He will replace Director Kevin Hamblin, who is set to retire in December and will serve until a permanent director is appointed.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as interim director and look forward to the opportunity to work alongside our dedicated planning and building team and citizens of Humboldt County,” Wall said.

David Lockhart arraignment for vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence causing the death of Hannah Baker

David Lockhart was arraigned this afternoon in Courtroom 5 for Count 1, vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in the death of Hannah Denise Baker. There is a special allegation that Lockhart caused great bodily injury or death to John Doe.

Through a family friend, I was told John Doe is out of the hospital.

Lockhart was held to answer to the same charges after his preliminary hearing.

Lockart  is out of custody. He was in court with two supporters/family members. The victim's family and friends were present with their attorney, Mr. Patrik Griego and some were wearing shirts with Baker's photo.

Lockhart entered not guilty pleas, denied all special allegations. Mr. David Celli appeared on behalf of his office, Mr. Russ Clanton is representing Lockhart.

Deputy District Attorney David Christensen is prosecuting the case.

The defense requested a jury trial based on the availability of Mr. Clanton's schedule and he has other trials in January. Through their attorney and reiterated by the People, the victim's family wanted the trial set within 60 days, which would have been on January 11.

However, Lockhart had waived time and since Mr. Clanton is not available, a jury trial date of February 18 was scheduled. Trial Confirmation is on February 4 at 2 p.m. and Pre-trial hearing is scheduled for January 21 at 2 p.m.

Nov 5, 2015

David Lockhart held to answer for charge of gross vehicular manslaughter and death of multiple victims

David Lockhart had a preliminary hearing scheduled this morning. He was held to answer on the charges and arraignment on information is on November 19.

There is only one victim in this case, Hannah Baker. John Doe, who was taken to the hospital, survived.

Sep 11, 2015

Preliminary hearing for David Lockhart charged with gross vehicular manslaughter is rescheduled for October 8

David Lockhart, is chared with a felony: homicide with the count of gross vehicular manslaughter and death of multiple victims. Yesterday, there was an intervention hearing in Courtroom 2 and the preliminary hearing for September 15 was vacated and a new date of October 8 was scheduled.

The Baker family, who lost their loved ones, have local  attorney Patrik Griego to represent them.

Deputy District Jackie Pizzo has been handling the case for the People. Mr. Russ Clanton represents Lockhart.

The District Attorney's office filed a stipulation and order on September 2 for independent analysis of a controlled substance.

Previous post (with other links and coverage):

California Highway Patrol press release:

On November 12, 2014, at approximately 1730 hours, a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup, driven by 48 year old David Lockhart of Weott, CA, was traveling south on US-101, north of Garberville. A 2012 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, driven by a 24 year old resident of Rio Dell, CA, was traveling north on US-101, north of Garberville. For reasons still under investigation, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup made an unsafe turning movement and traveled across the center median, into the northbound traffic lanes of US-101, while still traveling south.  The Silverado pickup subsequently collided head-on with the Suburban SUV in the #2 lane of northbound US 101.

Drivers of the both vehicles as well as the passenger of the Suburban SUV suffered major injuries as a result of the collision.  The driver of the Suburban SUV later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased at Jerold Phelps Community Hospital. The names of the Driver and Passenger of the Suburban SUV are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

California Highway Patrol, Humboldt County Sheriff, Cal-Fire, Garberville Volunteer Fire department, and Redway Volunteer Fire department all responded to the scene. This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol - Garberville Area.

Drug impairment does appear to be a factor in this collision.  At the time of the collision, airbags in both vehicles deployed, and all occupants were properly safety-belted.

Kristopher Jett who is awaiting placement to be committed, has order for anti psychotic medication assaults HCSO Correctional Deputy

Kristopher Jett who is awaiting placement in a mental health facility and had an order signed for psychotropic medication and is charged with assault adds to his criminal charges. Criminal proceedings have been suspended in his case. He was arrested for an assault near the Courthouse Market.

Count 1 is assault with a deadly weapon with a special allegation of a prior conviction in Del Norte County for PC 594 (b) 1.

Count 2 Elder/Dependent abuse. The complaint alleges Jett willfully caused " an elder and dependent adult to suffer unjustifiable physical and mental suffering", the victim is James Louis Stratton. Same special allegation of prior conviction of P 594 (b) 1.

Jett also has a prior conviction from Del Norte County for PC 422 which is a special allegation for both counts.

On November 13, Judge Bruce Watson found Jett not competent to stand trial based on a report by Dr. Ramirez.

On November 16, a judgement of mental incompetence and order of placement as well as an order for anti psychotic medication was filed.

HCSO Press Release:

On Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at approximately 8:30 p.m. a Humboldt County Correctional Deputy was assaulted by an inmate, Kristopher Frank Jett, age 29. The inmate was housed in a maximum security unit due to assaultive behavior and threats made against Correctional Deputies. Two Correctional Deputies were present to let inmate Jett out of his cell for his daily shower. Inmate Jett casually walked out of his cell and as he passed one of the Correctional Deputies he turned toward the Correctional Deputy and punched the Correctional Deputy in the face with a closed fist. Inmate Jett continued to punch the Correctional Deputy several more times. The Correctional Deputy attempted to block the punches and successfully backed away far enough to deploy their department issued Taser. Inmate Jett was unaffected when hit by the Taser probes and retreated into his cell. As this was occurring, the second Correctional Deputy radioed for backup and withdrew their department issued Taser. Inmate Jett was secured in his cell by Correctional Deputies. Inmate Jett is being charged with PC243.1- Battery on a Custodial Officer; and PC241.1 – Assault on a Custodial Officer. Jett has been in custody since October 13, 2015 for warrant for PC245(a)(1)- Assault with a Deadly Weapon. The Correctional Deputy victim declined medical attention.

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 at approximately 6:05 a.m. a Correctional Deputy was conducting a routine check on inmates in cells when inmate William Glen Abram, age 57, charged his door and pushed his way out. The Correctional Deputy attempted to contain inmate Abram, and a struggle ensued. Inmate Abram punched the Correctional Deputy in the face four times with a closed fist. Inmate Abram prevented the Correctional Deputy from radioing for more assistance. An additional Correctional Deputy began to assist and was able to radio for more assistance. Both Correctional Deputies deployed their department issued Tasers and the Taser probes contacted inmate Abram with minimal affect. Additional Correctional Deputies arrived and they were able to contain Abrams. The injured Correctional Deputy was treated at a local hospital for his injuries. Inmate Abrams is being charged with PC 243.1 – Battery on a Custodial Officer. Inmate Abram was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility just hours earlier on charges of PC245(a)(1)-Assault with a Deadly Weapon and PC243(e)(1)- Battery against a Spouse or Cohabitant.

It is undetermined if these incidents are related at this time.

Betty Chinn gets a surprise this morning thanks to AAA and Pacific Towing employees

Betty Chinn got a surprise this morning. Justin McCray, business manager for AAA delivered food donations that were donated by AAA and Pacific Towing employees to the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center, mostly to be used for holiday dinners.

People rest in Warren case, last witness is neurosurgeon testifying about victims' brain injuries

Both Jessica Hunt and Terri Vroman Little had extensive brain injuries including shearing of nerves in the brain. Dr. Thomas Krenek, medical director for the Inpatient Medical Unit at St. Joseph's hospital was the only witness this morning. The People rested their case today after Dr. Krenek's testimony.

Regarding Hunt, Dr. Krenek testified she had neurological issues. "She came to the hospital with mental status changes, showed injury to the temporal and peri occipital regions of the brain."

Vroman Little had double vision and weakness in the eye and eyelid caused by damage to cranial nerve number 3.

Defense case to be presented and will conclude n November 30.

Nov 18, 2015

"Mr. Hillegeist understands he's now going to pay his debt to society. I honestly believe that he will avail himself of every positive opportunity while in the Department of Corrections, as he has in county jail, and emerge as a man who can contribute to society in a positive way."

Today, at 4 p.m. William Hillegeist was sentenced by Judge John Feeney in Courtroom 1. He was represented by Mr. Ben McLaughlin.

This is from Mr. McLaughlin regarding the plea deal reached:

"Mr. Hillegeist was sentenced to 5 years for attempted murder in one matter, and 1 year for heroin sales in another.   The terms were each doubled, due to Mr. Hillegeist's 10-year-old "strike" prior, and will run consecutive to one another.  All other counts, special allegations, and criminal cases were dismissed.  He will serve 12 years, with a 15% credit limitation."

"While I believe the attempted murder count was defensible, Mr. Hillegeist nonetheless faced 38-years if convicted of Robbery.  I am happy he will have a life to live after he serves his sentence."

"I've represented and prosecuted a number of defendants in 13 years in criminal law, and think I am a pretty good judge of sincerity.  I've known Mr. Hillegeist for over a year-and-a-half, and I truly believe he is remorseful and embarrassed by his actions."

"I am thankful that the Deputy District Attorney, the court, and the Probation Department also recognized this."

"Mr. Hillegeist understands he's now going to pay his debt to society.  I honestly believe that he will avail himself of every positive opportunity while in the Department of Corrections, as he has in county jail, and emerge as a man who can contribute to society in a positive way."

"Mr. Hillegeist expressed to me his desire to get a college degree and become an addiction counselor. I do not think I'll ever again know Mr. Hillegeist in my capacity as a defense attorney."

Sep 10, 2015

From possible 50 to life to serving 12 years at 85%

I had not been following the William Hillegeist case since April, there have been a lot of disposition and reset hearings. Since I first saw him in court, I saw a change in Hillegeist's demeanor in court over the course of time.

As you can tell from the blog, lot of cases, multiple cases on at the same time on the same day. Yesterday there was a disposition and reset hearing in Courtroom 1.

Hillegeist was looking " at well north of 50-life," his attorney Mr. Ben McLaughlin told me.The matter resolved and now he will serve "12 years, @85%." 

Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees is the prosecutor on the case that resolved.

Last post (with other links):

Resolution expected in case for former Miss Hoopa charged with four counts of alleged abuse including abnormal sexual interest in children

This afternoon at 2 p.m. a hearing was scheduled to set a jury trial date for former Miss Hoopa, Kayla Brown, who is charged with four counts of alleged abuse against a minor female victim under the age of 16.

Deputy District Attorney Brie Bennett is prosecuting the case. Mr. Ben McLaughlin is representing Brown.

Today, a jury trial date was supposed to be set. Brown has signed a 977 former, a waiver of personal appearance for certain hearings and was not in court. Her family was not present either. The victim's family was present.

Mr. McLaughlin told Judge Joyce Hinrichs that "I am fairly certain there will be a resolution."

DDA Bennett agreed that there is an anticipated plea and said she had spoken with the victim and the victim's family last night.

"I will counsel my client to accept the offer," said Mr. McLaughlin.

Next court date is December 4 at 9:30 a.m.

Oct 28, 2015

Former Miss Hoopa arraigned for four counts of alleged abuse including abnormal sexual interest in children

21 year old Kayla Brown, former Miss Hoopa, charged with four counts of alleged sexual abuse against a minor victim under the age of 16 years was arraigned this afternoon. Deputy District Attorney Brie Bennett is prosecuting the case. Mr. Ben McLaughlin is representing Brown. Today, Rebecca Linkous appeared on behalf of Mr. McLaughlin in court.

DDA Roger Rees appeared for his colleague, Ms. Bennett. Ms. Linkous said that the defense is "in active negotiations" with Ms. Bennett, case may resolve. Next court date is November 18 for setting.

Brown was arraigned on  with four counts. Count 1 Abnormal Sexual Interest in Children and arranging a meeting for that purpose PC 288.4 (b); Meeting a Minor for lewd purposes.

The complaint alleges that, "a felony was committed by Kayla Muriel Brown, who did unlawfully and motivated by an unnatural and abnormal sexual interest in children, arrange a meeting with Jane Doe, a minor and a person defendant believed to be a minor, for the purpose of exposing the genitals and public and rectal area of Jane Doe and defendant and to engage in lewd and lascivious behavior and did go to the arranged meeting place at and about the arranged time."

Count 2 Sexual penetration with a foreign object; [289.(i)  any person over the age of 21 years who participates in an act of sexual penetration with another person who is under 16 years of age shall be guilty of a felony]

Count 3 288.3 (a) [288.3.  (a) Every person who contacts or communicates with a minor, or attempts to contact or communicate with a minor, who knows or reasonably should know that the person is a minor, with intent to commit an offense specified in Section 207, 209, 261, 264.1, 273a, 286, 288, 288a, 288.2, 289, 311.1, 311.2, 311.4 or 311.11 involving the minor shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for the term prescribed for an attempt to commit the intended offense]

Count 4 PC 647.6 (a) which is child molestation/annoying a child.

Sep 22, 2015

Former Miss Hoopa charged with alleged abuse of female minor waives preliminary hearing

Today, a  preliminary hearing was scheduled for Kayla Brown, the former Miss Hoopa charged with alleged abuse of a minor female victim.

Brown was in court with her attorney, Mr. Ben McLaughlin and members of her family.

The victim and her family were not in court but present in the building.

Visiting Judge Thomas Breen was calling the calendar today in Courtroom 8.

DDA Brie Bennett is prosecuting the case.

Brown waived her right to a preliminary hearing today. She also waived time for arraignment.

Discussions about a possible resolution are occurring and the case may resolve before arraignment.

Arraignment on information is scheduled for October 28 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 1.

No other media was in court this morning.

Aug 17, 2015

Preliminary hearing for Miss Hoopa charged with 4 counts of alleged abuse of a minor victim including abnormal Sexual Interest in Children delayed again

Today, there was an intervention scheduled for  Miss Hoopa Kayla Brown. Brown is Humboldt's first alleged female abuser with first female underage victim. Charges include abnormal sexual interest in children.

Kayla Brown is charged with four counts. Count 1 Abnormal Sexual Interest in Children and arranging a meeting for that purpose PC 288.4 (b); Count 2 Sexual penetration with a foreign object; [289.(i)  any person over the age of 21 years who participates in an act of sexual penetration with another person who is under 16 years of age shall be guilty of a felony]; Count 3 288.3 (a) [288.3.  (a) Every person who contacts or communicates with a minor, or attempts to contact or communicate with a minor, who knows or reasonably should know that the person is a minor, with intent to commit an offense specified in Section 207, 209, 261, 264.1, 273a, 286, 288, 288a, 288.2, 289, 311.1, 311.2, 311.4 or 311.11 involving the minor shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for the term prescribed for an attempt to commit the intended offense] and Count 4 PC 647.6 (a) which is child molestation/annoying a child.

The alleged victim is under 16 years of age. 

Intervention hearings take place in a closed courtroom. This case ended up being called before 3 p.m. but I was outside waiting to get dates and so was the victim's family. DDA Brie Bennett who is prosecuting the case spoke privately with the victim's family. Ben McLaughlin is representing Brown  along with Rebecca Linkous but Mr. David Celli appeared on behalf of Mr. McLaughlin today.

Preliminary hearing was scheduled for September 26 but it has been delayed yet again. The new intervention date is September 14 and the new preliminary hearing is September 22.

Previous post:

Jun 12, 2015

Former Miss Hoopa charged with alleged sexual abuse of female minor, family still unable to retain a lawyer

The preliminary hearing for Kayla Brown has still not occurred. First, her private attorney Jeffrey Schwartz declared a conflict. Then, another private attorney, Mr. Ben McLaughlin made a special appearance twice but still has to be retained and paid by Brown's family. Today, a 2 p.m. hearing was scheduled for Confirmation of Counsel in Courtroom 1. Mr. David Celli appeared for Mr. Ben McLaughlin and asked Judge John Feeney to continue the matter for another week. This is the third continuance and I did not see Brown's family in the courtroom.

June 24 at 2 p.m. is set for Confirmation of Counsel in Courtroom 1.

DDA Brie Bennett is prosecuting the case. DDA Zach Curtis who is the other prosecutor handling all CAST cases appeared for the People and did not object to the continuance. The victim's family and supporters were present and they talked with Mr. Curtis outside court.

Last post with other links/background on case:

Shocking I know but Eureka did not make it to the top ten safest cities in America

Fremont is safer than Eureka.

Just based on the number of homicides alone, not even counting other violent crime, I could have excluded Eureka.

Philip Smith Hanes has not resigned as CAO

Just checked with the County and Philip Smith Hanes has not resigned and rumors of his resignation are not true.

Waiting to hear back from Mr. Hanes himself.

Heard back from Mr. Hanes Thursday morning. He said he has no news at this time but he may in early December.

CHP MAIT Team leader testifies that based on his investigation Jason Warren did not even attempt to brake or avoid hitting joggers on Myrtle Avenue

Detailed testimony was given by CHP Northern Division MAIT (Multidisciplinary Action Investigative Team) Leader Mr. Christopher Dalin. In his testimony, he said that that based on his investigation Jason Warren did not even attempt to brake or avoid hitting joggers on Myrtle Avenue.

There was a witness from 2001 who described a man driving a blue and white Ford that struck him from behind on Janes Road, striking his buttocks and hands and causing the rear view mirror from the car to fall down. The witness said the driver accelerated, sped and up and hit him.

At the end of today's court session, Judge Timothy Cissna said that the People will rest their case tomorrow and defense will present their case on November 30. Closing arguments are expected to start December 2.

"Yeah, he stabbed me in the chest and arm and I tried to get out"

Cid Miller is the City Cab driver who Jason Warren stabbed in 2001. Warren was a juvenile at the time and he was convicted for the crime.

Miller testified this morning that Warren stabbed twice in the chest, twice in the back, once in the shoulder before he managed to jump out of the moving cab.

There was no warning, no argument, just a surprise attack.

Attitude seemed to be the theme for witnesses this morning. Miller snapped and was obnoxious to Mr. Paul Sequeira, who kept his cool.

Miller's mother and aunt were in court to support him.

 Miller is currently living in Seattle, Washington. His one and only response that was respectful was when Mr. Sequeira asked him where he was living.

Miller: "I was living here, Sir."

When Mr. Sequeira asked him what he did at City Cab, that's when the attitude kicked in.

Miller: "uh, driver."

Mr. Sequeira: "What shift did you work?"

Miller: "Graveyard."

Asked to state his hours, Miller responded, "Graveyard's pretty basic. 6 to 2. "

Asked whether part of his duties were collecting cash for cab fare, Miller responded with, "Yeah that's what cab drivers do."

Mr. Sequeira calmly explained to Miller when he would say stuff like this he was asking questions for the record and for the jury.

Miller: "Feels like an interrogation."

Mr. Sequeira: "No, just questions."

Miller said he picked up a "fare" in Eureka, a male who got in the cab "in the right back side door."
Miller responded to a question by Mr. Sequeira that it was dark and he did not see if the person was carrying anything.

Mr. Sequeira asked how the person was dressed.

Miller: "Like you."

Mr. Sequeira: "In a suit?"

Miller shot back, "Dressed in regular clothes. Pants and a sweatshit."

"He threw $40 over the seat and said Is this going to take me where I want to go," said Miller. When told that the male wanted to go to McKinleyville, Miller said he said yes.

Mr. Sequeira: "Did you go somewhere else before McKinleyville?"

Miller: "No. Once we got to McKinleyville, he was lost. Didn't know where he wanted to go, so I kept driving around in circles."

Mr. Sequeira: "Did you take him to Fields Landing?"

Miller: "I picked him up at the Best Western in Eureka then to Fields Landing. He could not find the person there so we went to McKinleyville, by the hospital."

Mr. Sequeira: "Once you got to Silkwood Avenue, what happened?"

Miller: "Where I had to jump out?"

Mr. Sequeira: "After you drove around at some point, did the fare do something to you?"

Miller: "Yeah, he stabbed me in the chest and arm and I tried to get out."

Miller said he didn't see a knife but he "felt it." Miller tried to get his seatbelt off, he was driving at 25 mph, and tired to get out of the cab. Before he could get out, he said the male "stabbed me twice in the back; once in the shoulder."

Miller then jumped out of the cab, the male climbed over into the front seat.

Having been stabbed five times, Miller said, "I couldn't see much at that time. I went to the nearest home I could find. They wouldn't let me in because I was bleeding." Next thing Miller remembers is waking up in the hospital. He could not remember how long he was in the hospital.

Asked if there was any argument, conversation before the stabbing, Miller said, "No argument, didn't even talk to the guy."

Mr. Sequeira: "Were you taken by surprise by the stabbing?"

Miller: "Is that a real question? Yeah."

Mr. Sequeira: "While you were being stabbed, did the man say anything to you?"

Miller: "No."

Humboldt County District Attorney's Chief Investigator Wayne Cox testified next. In 2012, he was working as an investigator for the DA's office. He was the one who got the search warrant for Dorothy Ulrich's home. He was there when Eureka Police Department picked up the abandoned KIA.

In April 2001, Mr. Cox worked for EPD. There was a blue and white Ford Taurus cab reported to be associated with "an assault the previous night" that was found abandoned on P Street between 6th and 7th Streets in Eureka. The cab was on the street, there was stuff in the alley.

Due to the report, Humboldt Towing took the cab directly to the DOJ forensics lab in Eureka for processing.

There was damage to the passenger side rear view mirror which was broken.

Eddie Koch who absconded from testifying in Warren trial, arrested, cuffed and beligerently resumes testimony

Eddie Koch, a subpoenaed material witness in the Jason Warren jury trial  testified briefly on November 9 and  then failed to return to court after a brief recess.

After several attempts to locate Koch proved unsuccessful, Judge Timothy Cissna issued a no bail warrant for Koch’s arrest. Koch was in custody and testified as a hostile witness for the prosecution this morning.

Flashbacks of the Jason Arreaga trial came to mind as Koch sat in Courtroom 4 this morning, cuffed.

Like Jerry Bachus in the Arreaga trial, Koch left in the middle of his testimony and to be arrested to testify. Like Shavonne Hammers, his responses were "Yeah" , "I don't recall" and " I don't remember."

He kept glancing at Warren during his testimony.

Today, for the first time, someone who knows Jason Warren attended the trial. Two women walked in the courtroom and said "hi J". He turned around and looked and waved hi to them. The two women are his cousin and aunt.

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a fresh haircut, Koch looked different but his demeanor was just as hostile as the last time he was in court.

Mr. Paul Sequeira briefly recapped where testimony was interrupted last time Koch was in court.

Mr. Sequeira: "You saw the defendant tapping on the window?"

Koch: "Yeah."

Koch's response to verifying his grandparents' phone number, that he was staying with his grandparents at their house on EW. Sonoma Avenue, was just "Yeah."

Mr. Sequeira asked what Warren was wearing and Koch was evasive. "I don't recall, probably a sweatshirt."

Mr. Sequeira: "Did you see any clothes at all?"

Koch: "Yeah."

Mr. Sequeira showed Koch a photo and then asked, "Do you recognize that as Jason Warren?"

Koch: "Sure."

Mr. Sequeira: "You recognize any of those clothes?"

Koch: "No."

Mr. Sequeira: "Did he have any property?"

Koch: No."

Mr. Sequeira: "How long did he hang out?"

Koch: "A couple of hours."

In response to a question by Mr. Sequeira, Koch said, "I think I left." Koch could not remember where he went. he left Warren at the house, he thinks in his bedroom.

Mr. Sequeira: "Did you see him use the phone?"

Koch: "I think so, he could have used it."

Using Koch's own description of Warren and him being best friends, Mr. Sequeira posed a question that Warren did not need permission ton use the phone or eat food, Koch acknowledged in the affirmative.

Mr. Sequeira: "Did you come back that afternoon?"

Koch: "I don't think so. I don't remember. It's been three years."

Mr. Sequeira: "Did he tell you he got a ride back to Hoopa?"

Koch: "No, I don't remember."

Mr. Sequeira: "Do you remember giving a statement to Detective Harpham?"

Koch: "no."

When Mr, Sequeira asked, "Do you remember talking to someone from the EPD and the DA's office?", Koch responded with the usual, "Yeah."

Mr. Sequeira gave him Detective Harpham's report and asked him to read a select portion to himself. Then he asked Koch, "Do you remember telling Detective Harpham that Mr. Warren came back in the afternoon?"

Koch: "I think so."

Mr. Sequeira: "Do you remember telling Detective Harpham he was going to get a ride back to Hoopa with his wife?"

Koch: "no."

Mr. Sequeira: "Do you remember him having a coat?"

Koch: "I think he had a coat. It was three years ago."

Koch said he does not remember Warren taking a shower or changing his clothes.

No bail for woman who gives law enforcement false name and is arrested for meth and marijuana

On 11-13-2015 at approximately 8:47 PM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office conducted a traffic stop on a 2007 Honda Accord for lighting and registration violations in the 76000 block of Henderson Road in Covelo, California.

The Deputies contacted the driver, Monique Peters, who initially provided them with a false name.

When it became clear the name provided was not her real name she was asked to step outside the vehicle.  Peters sped away from the Deputies resulting in a vehicular pursuit.

The vehicle pursuit took a route from Henderson Road onto Mina Road, at one point reaching speeds of approximately 90 miles per hour.

Peters continued to flee until she reached her residence in Hull’s Valley.  Peters fled on foot into her house with Deputies following.

Peters ran through the house and out the back door, tossing away a backpack as she ran.  Peters was subsequently apprehended behind the house.

The backpack was searched and found to contain approximately 1.6 pounds of bud marijuana, two hypodermic syringes loaded with suspected methamphetamine, a glass narcotics smoking pipe and a digital scale.

After being captured, Peters was positively identified by Deputies and determined to have an active Mendocino County misdemeanor arrest warrant for possession of a controlled substance.

Peters was arrested for evading in a vehicle, possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana for sale, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and false identification to a peace officer.

Peters was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held on a no bail status.

$250,000 bail for 72 year old man charged with molesting a 11 year old victim whose family he knew

On November 16th, at 8:16 AM, A Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy took a report from a family that their 11 year old daughter had possibly been molested by 72 year old Doran Wallace Lincoln, of Ukiah.

Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office became involved after the initial report was taken and conducted an investigation. During the investigation, it was learned that Lincoln, a close family friend of the victim, had allegedly molested her multiple times from September to November of 2015.

Following the investigation, Lincoln was arrested without incident at his residence and subsequently booked in the Mendocino County Jail for one count of 288(b)(1) PC [ Committing Lewd and Lascivious acts on a child under 14 years of age by means of fear or force] and two counts of 288(a) PC, [Committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 years of age].

A Mendocino County Superior Court Judge granted a bail enhancement and Lincoln's bail is set at $250,000.